Voice & Memory
The collections form a rich resource of letters, reports, reminiscences and photographs which give first hand accounts of Germany and England during the 1940s and 1950s. Many of the people behind the creation of the archives experienced unique events in world history. One of the most important characteristics of the archives is that they give a real sense of those people 'speaking' to the researcher of those events across the years. They give a unique glimpse of what is often a very personal world.
The following are some examples from the collections.
Extracts from Mimi Hatton's School Log Book written in the winter of 1946/7 at Bad Zwischenahn BFES School.
Playground is at present about 2 miles long and 1 mile wide – the lake being frozen
The lake was frozen from my arrival in December until April, the ice became a metre thick with two feet of snow on top
Having begged soap, soda etc., give the boiler-man a demonstration of scrubbing English housewife style. He scrubs out the new games room which has been unoccupied for a year. Water freezes as he scrubs, so we have an indoor skating rink
Toilets frozen – Engineers came. Main sewer frozen, nothing can be done they say.
Carpenters and Engineers arrive. Later after much persuasion and drawing of diagrams by me they agree to dig a temporary cess pit. Then say it will be impossible owing to the ground being frozen solid to a depth of two feet. I pointed out that they would dig one if somebody died, and that if one could be dug for the dead, one could certainly be dug for the living.
They light a huge fire which licks the wall of the house to thaw the pipes. I tremble lest school catches fire – no water to put it out.
Piano tuner arrives - with tools. Repairs piano upon which, up to my arrival, the children had danced
My hair and quills from swans on the lake, and twigs = paint brushes
Great joy, in the cellar I found hundreds of Canadian Army Regulations on green card, foolscap size…One side blank so my German assistants brought some of these to the school and I directed the making of reading cards and sum cards. – Have no printed books at all.
The following are extracts from letters written by Arabella Kurdi to her mother during 1947
From a letter written 12 Feb 1947
"People have dug rubbish out of what were basements and have made a room for themselves and at night one can see an electric light showing out from a pile of rubble. There’s just acres and acres of nothing but ghost like looking views.”
15 Feb 1947
"In Hamburg there are piles of rubble as much as 16-20ft high from the road level… Apparently under these terrific ruins there are numbers of bodies that have never been found"
The following image is reproduced from GER Bulletin No.1 1950. It contains part of the published version of a letter written by Franz Kistler, a German student, who had taken part in the Harvest Scheme, spending part of his summer in England. The letter provides a clear direct account of some of Kistler's impressions of England and the English.
The next image is of a letter written by Heinz-Günter Neuman, a German high-school student from Berlin writing to the English Charity “German Educational Reconstruction” describing himself, his school, his Christmas holidays and some of his experiences during and since the war
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